Once upon a time there was an ugly duckling company. An
unsexy majority-state owned utilities and energy company. The ugly duckling
became a swan – energy becomes hot and the share price quintuples. And everyone
is happy. Not quite – there’s a twist.

The controversy started with a simple announcement on 7 October. “The
Board of Directors of Fortum Corporation has decided to apply for the trading of
the 2001A options offered to its key employees in 2001 on the Main List of the
Helsinki Stock Exchange, with the listing to commence on 17 October 2005.”

In April 2001, the Fortum AGM approved a stock option plan for senior
executives, around 350 people. Later, 190 of these were offered a further round
of stock options. The board included a representative of Finnish Ministry for
Trade and Industry. At the time the options were way under water. Not any
more. The executives stand to make around 500 million euros. Fortum’s CEO
alone stands to make around 12 million euros.

Sweden reacts first. Fortum provides electricity to Sweden. Apparently,
Swedish consumers have been complaining about high electricity prices. And now
they find out that the FINNISH electricity provider is paying out what the
Swedes estimate is a 350 million bonus. Not happy Sven. The Helsinki Sanomat
reports that the Swedish financial daily newspaper Dagens
Industri
said that the stock option program was evidence of greed on
the part of the company’s management, and of misuse of its monopoly
position.

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